The gaming industry is currently at a peak that it has never seen before. High-quality games are available on consoles, PCs, and mobile gaming devices, and widespread high-quality internet connections mean that more people than ever have access to online games and competitions and the wide range of different devices available at varying price points means that more people than ever before can afford to play some level of video game. Whether you use your phone, console, or PC for online casino games or online gaming, it’s available to use wherever you like and that means you might even have enough gaming time available to try your hand at Esports.
To people who are outside of the gaming world or maybe new to it, Esports and gaming might sound like they’re the same thing, but they aren’t. Gaming is the umbrella term for playing any video game on any platform or by any means. Esports is gaming but on a competitive level. One side or person wins, another or a few lose. In Esports, there’s more at stake than just your pride: major Esports tournaments these days have prize pots worth millions of dollars, not to mention potential sponsorship opportunities. Let’s take a look at the differences in detail.
Welcome to the wonderful world of video games, we’re glad to have you! Gaming first began sometime between the 1950s and the 1960s when scientists working on the first computers began designing and playing simple games. Gaming covers video games of all sorts: from Candy Crush Saga to The Witcher to Minecraft. Gaming is only as competitive as you make it: wagering on the outcome of a match or putting up a prize pot between friends does not make gaming Esports. As of 2022, there are 3.4 billion people worldwide who call themselves gamers. 45% of the gamers in the United States today are women, which represents a significant increase in the number of female players in a sphere that had long been considered a boy’s club. The worldwide gaming industry is currently worth 196 billion US dollars and that number looks set to increase. The average age of dedicated gamers today is 35, which is probably something of a surprise to people outside of the industry. The fastest-growing gaming sector, in terms of devices, is mobile gaming.
Esports (electronic sports) have been around for a shorter period of time than the general gaming industry, but they are growing in popularity every day. Esports officially began in 1980, when it started becoming more common for gaming consoles. The very first Esports tournament ever played was a battle of the best in the world of Space Invaders. Over 10,000 players attended this first event. Donkey Kong was the next game to have an official tournament and it was surprisingly cutthroat! In the early 90s, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat followed suit and Esports grew in leaps and bounds from there. An Esports competition is an official tournament that has a financial prize up for grabs. There is competition, risk, and reward.
Currently, the biggest Esports tournaments in the world are The International (Dota 2), the Fortnite World Cup, and the Honor of Kings World Championship. The prizes in the most recent installments of these competitions were $40,018,400, $20,000,000 and $7,728,000 respectively. These tournaments are super events, with billions of fans watching at home and tens of thousands of people attending in person. Esports is most often undertaken by teams of players.
Not all games are made equal and not all games will make it to the world of Esports. For a game to be successful in a professional competition, it has to be entertaining to watch for fans who are not participating. It also needs to be challenging to master, and require a very high level of skill to play but be easy for fans to follow and have a reasonable amount of variables and potential outcomes. Most Esports games are, naturally, gamers; however, this is not a prerequisite. Many Esports fans are friends or family of gamers who join in on the excitement purely because it’s fun and interesting. While anyone with a PC, console, or device can be a gamer (you don’t have to be great at it, you just have to enjoy it!) Only people who have a very high level of skill in certain games will be able to make it as an Esports player. Think of Esports like the FIFA world cup of gaming: many people play football but few can play it at that level.
The difference between gaming and Esports is clear, but they are inextricably connected as one feeds into the other. What do you consider yourself: a gamer, an Esports player?